Mary Pickford threatened to divorce Buddy, suit says (1-10-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 10, 1941)

Husband’s managers demand $300,000 damages, charge breaking of 10-year contract
By Martin Kane, United Press staff writer

New York, Jan. 10 –
Mary Pickford threatened Buddy Rogers with divorce if he didn’t come home to Hollywood, it was charged today in a $300,000 damage suit brought against the couple by Rogers’ managers.

Rogers, a film star before he took up orchestra work, thereupon gave up his band-leading travels and went home, thus breaking his 10-year contract with Arthur T. Michaud and James V. Peppe, New York artists’ managers. They sued Miss Pickford and her husband for $150,000 apiece.

In Hollywood, Mary Pickford through her attorney, Lloyd Wright, replied:

The charges are absurd – so ridiculous that they do not merit comment.

Aside from the divorce threat, Michaud and Peppe complained, Miss Pickford enticed her husband home with a promise to “compensate him by using her best efforts in seeking employment for him in Hollywood as a producer of motion pictures.”

Court Move Reveals Suit

Miss Pickford, golden-curled “America’s Sweetheart” of the silent films, married Rogers on June 27, 1937 in Hollywood. Eleven years his bride’s junior, Rogers had not been married before. It was Miss Pickford’s third marriage. She previously had been wedded to Owen Moore, whom she divorced in 1920, and Douglas Fairbanks, whom she divorced in 1934 after 10 years of what had been considered the ideal Hollywood marriage.

The breach of contract suit came to light when Pickford-Rogers attorneys started action to have it transferred from State Supreme Court to Federal Court because of the various parties’ diversity of residence.

The plaintiffs contended that Rogers signed a 10-year contract with them in May 1939 and broke it in August 1940, yielding to Miss Pickford’s indictments.

Suit Accuses Miss Pickford

They charged that Miss Pickford:

…wrongfully and willfully informed and threatened Rogers that she would institute divorce proceedings against him, although she had no cause or good reason therefor, unless he breached and repudiated and abandoned his contract and unless he returned to her home called Pickfair in Hollywood and remained with her there.

Rogers gave in, the plaintiffs continued. His departure constituted a breach of contract, they held, though cancellation was possible under its terms only if he did not earn, under their management, sums ranging from $24,000 in the first year, $36,000 in the second and $48,000 in the third to $120,000 in the tenth.

Miss Pickford, during her marriage to the dashing Fairbanks, never missed dinner with her husband in the first six years she was married to him. The first dinner served to her apart from Fairbanks resulted because he had to attend a lodge initiation. She refused to eat it.

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